Wolff: Masi 'robbed' Hamilton of deserved F1 championship win

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the decision-making of FIA race director Michael Masi has 'robbed' Lewis Hamilton of a “deserved” Formula 1 world championship. 
Michael Masi (AUS) FIA Race Director.
Michael Masi (AUS) FIA Race Director.
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Hamilton appeared on course to claim both the race victory and a record-breaking eighth F1 world title having dominated Sunday’s season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

But a controversial Safety Car restart procedure overseen by Masi enabled Max Verstappen, on fresh soft tyres, to overtake Hamilton during a last-lap shoot-out to win the race and clinch his maiden championship. 

“I’m not interested to having a conversation with Michael Masi,” said Wolff on Thursday after Mercedes announced it had withdrawn its appeal against the race result. 

“The decisions that have been taken in the last four minutes of the race have dropped Lewis Hamilton of a deserved world championship. His driving in the last four races particularly was faultless. 

“He had a commanding lead on Sunday in Abu Dhabi from the get go. He won the start and he never gave the lead away again. And robbing him in the last lap of the racing, is unacceptable. 

“That’s why from a personal standpoint, from a professional standpoint, my values, my sense of integrity, just isn’t compatible to the decisions that have been made on Sunday.

“And it is up to the FIA to decide going forward how these decisions, how these situations, can be avoided.

"I would have been totally okay with Max and Red Bull winning the championship on Sunday. This situation has nothing to do with Max; he is a worthy champion, his driving is exceptional, and Red Bull are fierce competitors, and I have the greatest respect of the people working there. 

“This has nothing to do with them.” 

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 leads behind the Aston Martin FIA Safety Car.
Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 leads behind the Aston Martin FIA…
© xpbimages.com

The FIA has subsequently launched a probe into the final laps in Abu Dhabi after admitting the arguments surrounding the race are “tarnishing” the reputation and image of the sport. 

Wolff is adamant the Safety Car protocols contradicted previous races in the past and was one of many inconsistencies throughout a controversial 2021 season. 

“If you look at most of the controversies that have happened this year it was about sporting decisions on the track, the inconsistency of the execution of the regulations on track,” he explained. 

“It is one thing to drive hard and have difference of opinion among drivers and teams, it is the nature of the game. But inconsistent decision making leads to controversies, leads to polarisation and that was the grounds for many of the totally unnecessary controversies on the track. 

“How can it be that 14 months ago at the Eifel Grand Prix the explanation that was given was exactly the contrary to what has happened on Sunday?” Wolff added. 

“The explanation that was given that the reason why the Safety Car was out so long is that all cars need to unlap themselves. With the explanation that this is following the sporting regulations. Not only has the decision been taken in a totally opposite way, but there is an explanation being made 180-degree different to what went on 14 months ago.” 

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